The government is preparing to sign Air Service Agreement (ASA) with five countries and review existing ASAs with three others.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) is preparing to sign ASAs with Australia, Vietnam, Combodia, New Zealand and Iceland. Similarly, preparations are underway to review ASAs with Oman, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
Officials say the ministry was preparing to sign ASA with Australia taking into consideration rising air traffic, especially students, between Kathmandu and different Australian cities.
Number of Australian tourists increased by 16.5 percent to 18,746 in 2012.
Similarly, officials say ASAs with Cambodia and Vietnam will help to bring more tourists to Lumbini as these countries are considered predominantly Buddhist nations. They say ASAs with New Zealand and Iceland might be helpful in bringing tourists from these counties.
The government is reviewing ASAs with Saudi Arabia, Oman and Malaysia to make available more seats between Kathmandu and designated cities of these countries. Oman Air is flying between Kathmandu and Muscat. Similarly, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) had started preparations to fly to Dammam of Saudi Arabia in the past. But it couldn’t materialize.
ASA with Malaysia is being reviewed due to growing demand for air seats between Kathmandu and Malaysia. The existing ASA allows designated airlines of both the countries to operate a maximum of 21 flights a week. Malaysian airlines are already operating 21 flights a week.
At present, NAC, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia X are operating on Kathmandu-Malaysia route. Another Malaysian carrier Malindo Air has already received temporary permission to operate daily flights on the sector. Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) will make the temporary permit permanent once more flights are allowed on the route by revising the existing ASAs.
Nepal has signed ASA with 36 countries and European Union (EU) so far. At present, 26 international airlines link Kathmandu with different cities across the world.